May 29, 2014

Our Referee Observer's Report for Kuipers' Champions League Final

- 59 Comments
Please find the The Third Team's referee observer's report for Björn Kuipers' Champions League Final attached below. The report follows UEFA's guidelines of referee observation but - as usual - sets own, independent accents and emphases with regard to the interpretation of the relevant match situations.

Good work by Team Kuipers

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May 24, 2014

Champions League Final Referee Kuipers Awaits Goosebumbs

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Real Madrid CF and Club Atlético de Madrid have been hard at work assessing each other, and keeping just as close an eye on matters have been the UEFA Champions League final match officials led by referee Björn Kuipers.


The Dutchman, following in the footsteps of compatriots Leo Horn, Charles Corver and Dick Jol in refereeing the European Cup final, will have the honour on Saturday night in Lisbon as the two Madrid rivals meet. And along with assistant referees Sander van Roekel and Erwin Zeinstra, additional assistant referees Pol van Boekel and Richard Liesveld, reserve assistant referee Angelo Boonman and Turkish fourth official Cüneyt Çakir, Kuipers will know the teams inside out.
"We really prepare a lot," Kuipers told UEFA.com. "I have seen their matches in the Champions League, and especially games between Atlético and Real – we saw the matches between them in the Copa, in the Spanish league, so we prepared very, very well. We have a video analyst who helps us a lot to get the right matches and the right pictures, the key players and the playing styles. So our preparation is from A to Z."
Like the players, stepping out on the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica pitch is the pinnacle for any referee and his team of assistants " It's an honour to be here, to be appointed for this unique Champions League final," Kuipers said. "I'm very proud, very happy with this fantastic Champions League final. I am very proud of the team, and we are looking forward to it."
The UEFA Champions League anthem playing is "what we call in the Netherlands a 'Kippenvel' moment, literally 'chicken skin'" Kuipers added. "It's a moment you will never forget, so you have to enjoy it."
This is far from Kuipers's first big final. A year ago he oversaw Chelsea FC's triumph over SL Benfica to win the UEFA Europa League at the Amsterdam ArenA, and in his first year as a FIFA official he handled the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final between Russia and the Czech Republic in Luxembourg. "Every step you take is a new one. And in 2006 it was the first year I became an international referee, so to start with a tournament, a final tournament, and to do the final was a big step, and it finishes here now at the Champions League final. So it's a great experience, you know."
His refereeing journey goes back even further than that, and there are a large group of people to whom Kuipers is thankful. "To many, not to one person but to many people," he said. "I started refereeing when I was 16, I'm now 41, so already a long time.
"So I'm not dedicating this final to one person, but to all the people who are there for me: my family, my friends, also the people who have worked with me in refereeing. So it's a great moment for everybody who stands with us."

Check the original text as well as a video interview on UEFA.com.



UEFA Champions League Final 2014
24 May 2014, 20:45 CET
Estádio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal
Real Madrid - Atlético Madrid
Referee: Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Assistant Referee 1: Sander van Roekel (Netherlands)
Assistant Referee 2: Erwin E. J. Zeinstra (Netherlands)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Pol van Boekel (Netherlands)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Richard Liesveld (Netherlands)
Fourth Official: Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)
Reserve Assistant Referee: Angelo Boonman (Netherlands)
UEFA Referee Observer: Herbert Fandel (Germany)
UEFA Delegate: Karl-Erik Nilsson (Sweden)
UEFA Referee Liaison Officer: Nuno Castro (Portugal)
Blog Referee Observers: Chefren (Italy), Niclas (Germany)

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May 21, 2014

Fijian assistant referee Ravinesh Kumar will miss the World Cup

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Thank to Árbitro Internacional, we can confirm that Fijian assistant referee Ravinesh Kumar will miss the WC. After having been officially selected in O'Leary team as AR2, Kumar was unable to attend the FIFA meeting on last April, due to a serious injury suffered two weeks before the date. Therefore, a few days ago FIFA has deleted his name from the WC officials.

Ravinesh Kumar will miss the most important tournament for a referee (c) fijisun.com
Differently from what happened in the past, the rest of the trio will not miss the World Cup. Indeed, Mark Rule from New Zealand, originally appointed as reserve assistant referee with Tahitian official Hauata, will be integrated in O'Leary team as AR2, while the missing spot of reserve assistant referee from OFC will be not replaced by anyone. We thank again our friend-blog Árbitro Internacional for the confirmation.
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May 20, 2014

Situation from MLS shows Law 11 is still confusing players - and assistant referees

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Almost a year ago, the IFAB decided to alter the literal wording of Law 11 to simplify the interpretation of offside and pay more attention to the real intention of the defenders concerned.  


Here you can find another suitable example of the circumstance that this new offside rule has not yet met the players' awareness, approval and understanding. In addition it shows that also assistant referees have still problems to transfer their theoretical comprehension of what these changes mean into intuitive praxis on the field of play, a requirement I often called "internalization" in the past.


In the US American MLS match between RB New York and Chicago Fire (4:5) refereed by 46-year old Kevin Stott, a red-dressed away midfielder made a middle-high pass into the penalty area. The goalkeeper was hesitant since another attacker, who had clearly been closer to the goalline than the second last defender, likely reached and distracted the ball. But as he did not do so, the ball went into the goal unexpectedly without physical contact by the attacker.
At first, assistant referee 1 Brian Poeschel had raised the flag for offside, but after two or three seconds and a potential overruling or consultation via micro, he took it down and ran towards the midfield line: The officials surprisingly allowed this goal to count. And they were right. 

Let us compare the old and new versions of Law 11 with each other.

Old version
New version effective from 1st July 2013

In the context of Law 11 – Offside, the following definitions apply:

(…)
·         “interfering with play” means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate

·         “interfering with an opponent” means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent

·         “gaining an advantage by being in that position” means playing a ball that rebounds to him off a goalpost or the crossbar having been in an offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position


In the context of Law 11 – Offside, the following definitions apply:

(…)
·         “interfering with play” means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate

·         “interfering with an opponent” means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or challenging an opponent for the ball


·         “gaining an advantage by being in that position” means playing a ball

I) that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent having been in an offside position

II) that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent having been in an offside position

A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent, who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save), is not considered to have gained an advantage.


The attacker in offside did not interfere with play. Moreover, he did not gain an advantage from being in that position in the sense of the Laws of the Game. Therefore, the only criteria that might be discussed is interfering with an opponent. 

A year ago, the assistant referee's original decision would have been correct: Although the goalkeeper's line of sight was absolutely free and not obstructed at all, he had to gauge whether the attacker would reach the ball. For this reason, the attacker made a "movement, which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent" - so: Offside. 

However, this passage was completely changed in Law 11's new version. Now gestures or movements are not enough anymore. It rather depends on whether the attacker actively challenges an opponent, i.e. the goalkeeper, for the ball. The guidelines issued by UEFA propose either physical interference as a basis for such a challenge or being within playing distance.
This playing distance is defined as max. 1,5 m and considered to be specified further soon: "A player in an offside position is deemed to be “challenging an opponent for the ball” if he makes a clear action within playing distance which impacts the ability of the opponent to play the ball." 

In our concrete match situation, the attacker neither physically interfered with the goalkeeper, nor did he challenge him within playing distance. He was several metres away. Without any doubt, the goalkeeper was cognitively irritated by the attacker - but the new rule does not care about that. He was not clearly impacted in his ability to play the ball. The goal was legally scored - NO OFFSIDE.
And that's probably what World Cup referee Mark Geiger - in his function as fourth official - explained to the quite furious coach in the aftermath of this situation...and that's what you can try to explain to coaches and 13-year old players in your own amateur matches. Good luck!
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May 19, 2014

Andreas Ekberg to handle U-17 EURO 2014 Final

- 30 Comments
Swedish official Andreas Ekberg has been appointed by UEFA to officiate the final match of 2014 UEFA U17 Tournament, in Malta, between Netherlands and England. The match will be played on 21 May 2014.

Andreas Ekberg will be at his first international final (c) fogis.se

A FIFA referee since 2013, the 29 years-old from Sweden will be assisted by Dag-Roger Nebben from Norway as AR1 and Istvan Albert from Hungary as AR2. Latvian Aleksandrs Anufrijevs will act as fourth official. Hugh Dallas will observe the officials. We wish them good luck.

21/05/2014, 19:00 CET, Ta' Qali
Netherlands - England
Referee: Andreas Ekberg (SWE)
Assistant referee 1: Dag-Roger Nebben (NOR)
Assistant referee 2: Istvan Albert (HUN)
Fourth official: Aleksandrs Anufrijevs (LVA)
UEFA Referee observer: Hugh Dallas (SCO)
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May 18, 2014

Our Referee Observer's Report for Felix Brych's Europa League Final

- 16 Comments
Please find the The Third Team's referee observer's report for Felix Brych's UEFA Europa League Final attached below. The report follows UEFA's guidelines of referee observation but - as usual - sets own, independent accents and emphases with regard to the interpretation of the relevant match situations.


Our observers have corporately analyzed the match and have come to the conclusion to certify the German referee a really good, expected level performance (8.4) with one crucial mistake (7.9): not repeating the first penalty kick saved by Sevilla's goalkeeper Beto in the decisive penalty shoot-out. Furthermore, Additional Assistant Referee 1 Tobias Welz missed a foul inside the penalty area in his full area of responsibility in the 56th minute of play and was hence awarded a 7.9, too.

Report Document
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May 16, 2014

2014 Summer Youth Olympics: selected officials

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FIFA has selected the following officials to handle matches at the Male Football Tournament of the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, to be held on August 2014. Each of the FIFA confederations will have a representative trio.

Sascha Amhof, selected as UEFA referee (c) obwaldnerzeitung.ch

AFC
Referee: Ming Fu (China)
Assistant Referees: Ji Ma (China) - Cao Yi (China)

CAF
Referee: Maguette N´Diaye  (Senegal)
Assistant Referees : Jerson Emiliano Dos Santos (Angola) - Elvis Noupoue (Cameroon)

OFC
Referee: Kader Zitouni  (Tahiti)
Assistant Referees: Paul Ahupu (Tahiti) - Terry Piri (Cook Islands)

CONCACAF
Referee: Ricardo Montero (Costa Rica)
Assistant Referees: Marco Díaz (Guatemala) - Geovany García (El Salvador)

UEFA
Referee: Sascha Amhof (Switzerland)
Assistant Referees: Remy Zgraggen (Switzerland) - Alain Heiniger (Switzerland)

CONMEBOL
Referee: Daniel Fedorczuk (Uruguay)
Assistant Referees: Javier Bustillos (Bolivia) - Luis Murillo (Venezuela)

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Jonathan Lardot and Alexander Harkam to handle U17 semifinals

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UEFA has appointed Belgian referee Jonathan Lardot and Austrian Alexander Harkam to handle semifinals of the U17 Euro Tournament in Malta.  Hugh Dallas from Scotland will observe the Austrian official.




18/05/2014, 17:45 CET, Ta' Qali
Portugal - England (Semifinal)
Referee: Alexander Harkam (AUT)
Assistant referee 1: Dag-Roger Nebben (NOR) 
Assistant referee 2: Oleksandr Korniyko (UKR)
Fourth official: Andreas Ekberg (SWE)
UEFA Referee observer: Hugh Dallas  (SCO)

18/05/2014, 20:45 CET, Ta' Qali
Netherlands - Scotland (Semifinal)
Referee: Jonathan Lardot  (BEL)
Assistant referee 1: Jure Praprotnik (SVN)
Assistant referee 2: Istvan Albert (HUN)
Fourth official: Aleksandrs Anufrijevs (LVA)
UEFA Referee observer: Marc Batta (FRA)
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May 15, 2014

Beto's Irregular Penalty Save(s) Tarnish Brych's Europa League Final

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After an intense Europa League final night in Turin with a piece of widely poor football that was however fueled by a lot of passion right from the start, it is time to reflect Felix Brych's performance briefly. The technical analysis will follow in form of the referee observers' report to be uploaded in due course.


Priority no.1 in every Iberian duel is to maintain as much control as possible. And this is more easily said than done. As indicated, both sides started nervously, Sevilla even quite roughly into the game. Felix Brych tried it with a sensible and stepwise strategy based on discreet and public warnings already after 90 seconds and some minutes later. This set his line for the match. In 12' and 13', two yellow cards were justifiably issued - he had no other chance. They were mandatory and almost orange. Sevilla were slightly furious both on the field of play and on the seats since their team were already 0:2 behind in terms of cautions. The referee used the chance to tactically balance this later on when cautioning Siqueira. No necessary caution, but it underlined that Team Brych followed a clear plan and retrospectively considered, this fully worked. All players calmed down after this most difficult part of the whole match. Therefore the Dr. in law succeeded in really "managing" this match.

The penalty appeals: What should be emphasized is that we saw that Gaitán and Lima received small but maybe decisive contacts in 45+2' and 56' after the third super-slowmotions  - replays from viewing angles that the match officials could only dream of in real-time. However, not every contact is a foul and the referee relied on his better positioned (A)ARs in these occasions. For me these decisions were perfectly taken - but I won't go into deeper discussion at this point. It is clear that in at least these two cases there is room for discussion. And everybody has his own interpretation of these situations and that's fine - my interpretation is that, in both situations, you should let play flow if you understand this game, the reasons for the attackers to fall and if you have already experienced such moments yourself on the pitch. Maybe the circumstance that even Jorge Jesús (!) did not produce a negative echo after the match in terms of that should make us think, too.

The mental and physical challenge. More than 120 minutes of high-pace football (although it was not technically sophisticated at all) and a strange arc of suspense exposed remarkable challenges for the referee and his teammates. Brych had to keep a cool mind all match long, there was practically never a long moment to take breath. Probably Brych, Borsch and Lupp will face similar scenarios in Brazil next month. Besides a couple of smaller mistakes, they accomplished this mental mission in a good way. Same goes for the physical aspects. Even though all actors including Felix Brych became a bit slower in the extra-time, there were no problems. Positioning and movement were much improved compared to his previous matches.

So far, so good. But the real problem came after the match time had already been finished. We all know that Benfica's first penalty saved by Sevilla goalkeeper Beto should have been repeated. As the screenshot unfolds, he was standing 2 metres in front of the goalline and for this reason, he saved the ball.


The Laws of the Game are unequivocally clear. Law 14 makes clear that the goalkeeper has to be positioned on the goalline between both goal-posts facing the attacker until the ball is moving forward. There is no room for interpretation. This penalty kick - and probably the second saved penalty - should have been repeated. And then, who knows whether Sevilla really had won the trophy... Two additional assistant referees, who are supposed to monitor the goalline only, obviously did not see more than the referee who had to concentrate on the ball's movement and penalty taker.

By the way - what makes me doubt is that in Zenit St Petersburg - FC Porto and Atlético Madrid - Austria Wien (UCL group stage 2013/14), similar incidents were equally ignored. UEFA should put this on their agenda. It surprises me that they have apparently not done so before.

In the Europa League final's case, I am actually sure that all of them were aware of what had happened.
Maybe there was a lack of concentration for the unexpected, maybe they were mentally already in the dressing room, maybe they had no courage to intervene in this decisive dimension, maybe they just wanted to have this final finished without bigger trouble - nobody protested.. I can partly even feel with them. But, for sure, these saved penalties decided this season's Europa League champions, are the core of criticism one has to put forward and the main impression that will stay in our minds. In the end, it unfortunately tarnished a very nice performance.
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May 14, 2014

Brych awaits final honour

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UEFA Europa League final referee Felix Brych talks to UEFA.com about his mantra of taking one step at a time, the value of experience and a surprise phone call. He was the fourth official at last season's UEFA Europa League final and will be the man in the middle in Turin today – "the most important game" of his career and vindication for his step by step approach.


"When you start refereeing you create new goals every step of the way," the referee from Munich told UEFA.com on the eve of the 2014 decider. "First you want to be one of the top referees in your region, then you want to be in the Bundesliga, then you want to be a FIFA referee. Once you're a FIFA referee you begin to think about finals. Last year, I was fourth official for the final and of course the next step is to be in the middle."
That is exactly where Brych will be when Sevilla FC take on SL Benfica, and while it represents "the next step" he is confident that the two decades it took him to reach this stage means he is on terra firma. "Experience is vital for a game like this – you couldn't do it in the early stages of your career. I have something like 50 European matches to draw on, from all across Europe. You have to be physically fit and mentally strong, but experience is perhaps the biggest thing for games like this."
Brych cuts an assured figure as he surveys the scene from the mouth of the tunnel at the compact Juventus Stadium, its steep terracing meaning fans will be on top of the action this evening. He draws on that experience, relates it to something he knows. "This is my first time here but stadiums like these are typical for Germany, especially after the World Cup, so I'm used to this kind of setup," he says. "There won't be any surprises for me in that respect."
The 38-year-old has been studying the teams and players to ensure there are no shocks there, though he has learned to expect the unexpected. He was notable caught off-guard as he was checking into a hotel ahead of a Bundesliga assignment when his mobile phone rang. The voice on the other end, belonging to UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina, told him he had been selected for Turin.
It was the latest episode in a career which began with a disappointment. "I used to play and had an injury at the age of 18 but I always had interests in refereeing – I don't know why," Brych says. "Whenever I could, I always tried to do official matches at school – games between classes. It was always a special interest so when I got injured, I got the licence – an obvious first step." The first of many.



UEFA Europa League Final 2014
14 May 2014, 20:45 CET
Juventus Arena, Turin, Italy
Sevilla FC - Benfica SL
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)
Assistant Referee 1: Mark Borsch (Germany)
Assistant Referee 2: Stefan Lupp (Germany)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Tobias Welz (Germany)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Bastian Dankert (Germany)
Fourth Official: Milorad Mažić (Serbia)
Reserve Assistant Referee: Thorsten Schiffner (Germany)
UEFA Referee Observer: Hugh Dallas (Scotland)
UEFA Delegate: Lloyd Hughes (Wales)
UEFA Referee Liaison Officer: Davide Garbini (Italy)
Blog Referee Observers: Edward (Greece), Thomas H. (Netherlands)


The jerseys (Sevilla GK, Sevilla players, Referee, Benfica Players, Benfica GK):

Please discuss the team's performance in this thread later this evening.
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U-17 EURO 2014 - Matchday 3

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UEFA has published the appointments for Matchday 3 of 2014 UEFA U17 Final Tournament.




15/05/2014, 11:00 CET, Ta' Qali
Turkey - Malta (Group A)
Referee: Jonathan Lardot (BEL)
Assistant referee 1: David Elias Biton (ISR) 
Assistant referee 2: Jure Praprotnik (SVN)
Fourth official: Aleksandrs Anufrijevs (LVA)
UEFA Referee observer: Leif Lindberg (SWE)

15/05/2014, 11:00 CET, Paola
England - Netherlands (Group A)
Referee: Alexander Harkam (AUT)
Assistant referee 1: David Chigogidze (GEO) 
Assistant referee 2: Mesrop Ghazaryan (ARM)
Fourth official: Alan Mario Sant (MLT)
UEFA Referee observer: Adrian D. Casha (MLT)

15/05/2014, 18:00 CET, Ta' Qali
Portugal - Germany (Group B)
Referee: Andreas Ekberg (SWE)
Assistant referee 1: Oleksandr Korniyko (UKR)
Assistant referee 2:  Istvan Albert (HUN)
Fourth official: Nikola Dabanović (MNE)
UEFA Referee observer: Marc Batta (FRA)

15/05/2014, 18:00 CET, Paola
Switzerland - Scotland (Group B)
Referee: Aliyar Aghayev (AZE)
Assistant referee 1: Audrius Jagintavičius (LTU) 
Assistant referee 2: Dag-Roger Nebben  (NOR)
Fourth official: Clayton Pisani (MLT)
UEFA Referee observer: Kyros Vassaras (GRE)
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May 11, 2014

U-17 EURO 2014: Referees for Matchday 2 ready

- 14 Comments
UEFA has already published the appointments for Matchday 2 of 2014 UEFA U17 Final Tournament.




09/05/2014, 11:00 CET, Paola
Switzerland - Portugal (Group B)
Referee: Nikola Dabanović (MNE)
Assistant referee 1: David Chigogidze  (GEO)
Assistant referee 2: Audrius Jagintavičius (LTU)
Fourth official: Clayton Pisani (MLT)
UEFA Referee observer: Marc Batta (FRA)

09/05/2014, 11:15 CET, Gozo
England - Turkey (Group A)
Referee: Jonathan Lardot  (BEL)
Assistant referee 1: Oleksandr Korniyko (UKR)
Assistant referee 2: David Elias Biton (ISR)
Fourth official: Andreas Ekberg (SWE)
UEFA Referee observer: Kyros Vassaras (GRE)

09/05/2014, 15:15 CET, Gozo
Malta - Netherlands (Group A)
Referee: Aliyar Aghayev (AZE)
Assistant referee 1: Mesrop Ghazaryan (ARM)
Assistant referee 2: Dag-Roger Nebben (NOR)
Fourth official: Alexander Harkam (AUT)
UEFA Referee observer: Leif Lindberg (SWE)

09/05/2014, 18:00 CET, Paola
Germany - Scotland (Group B)
Referee: Aleksandrs Anufrijevs (LVA)
Assistant referee 1: Istvan Albert (HUN)
Assistant referee 2: Jure Praprotnik (SVN)
Fourth official: Alan Mario Sant (MLT)
UEFA Referee observer: Adrian D. Casha (MLT)
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May 8, 2014

U-17 EURO 2014: Referees for Matchday 1 selected

- 24 Comments
UEFA has revealed the referee appointments for the first matchday of 2014 Under-17 European Championship to be played at Mediterranean island nation Malta during the next two weeks. The referees will be observed and assessed by Marc Batta and Kyros Vassaras as representatives of the referee committee and supported by Adrian D. Casha and presumably Charles Agius as the hosting association's representatives and Swedish Leif Lindberg who very likely assumes special responsibilities in coaching the eight assistant referees. Hugh Dallas is furthermore present at the tournament.


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May 7, 2014

UEFA Europa League Final 2014 will be refereed by German Felix Brych

- 25 Comments
Germany's no.1 Felix Brych has been assigned by UEFA's Referee Committee headed by Pierluigi Collina to take charge of next Wednesday's all-Iberian UEFA Europa League Final between Sevilla FC and Benfica SL in Turin's Juventus Arena. The match is about to commence at 20:45 CET.



Based in Munich, the Dr. in financial law has become an international referee in 2007. UEFA did not need that long to discover his modern refereeing style and high quality of performances in Europe's top-class matches in Champions League and on national team level. His play-off between Ireland and France marks his international breakthrough, followed by a row of vitally important appointments including Chelsea FC's win over FC Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals or his nomination for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. This season, he successfully took control over matches like AC Milan - FC Barcelona, Chelsea FC against Galatasaray or, in the quarterfinals, FC Barcelona - Atlético Madrid in UEFA Champions League.


For Brych, it will be his first final ever. He never took charge of a final before, neither on national, nor on international turf. During the last three years, the 38-year old only controlled one Europa League match (in early 2012). However, he accompanied Björn Kuipers into last season's Europa League final at Amsterdam Arena where Benfica SL lost - pretty late - against Chelsea FC with 1:2.
A regular, German team will surround Brych in Turin. Serbian Milorad Mažić will complete the team being the fourth official and thus rewarded for his impressive development over the last season(s).

Viel Glück!

UEFA Europa League Final 2014
14 May 2014, 20:45 CET
Juventus Arena, Turin, Italy
Sevilla FC - Benfica SL
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)
Assistant Referee 1: Mark Borsch (Germany)
Assistant Referee 2: Stefan Lupp (Germany)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Tobias Welz (Germany)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Bastian Dankert (Germany)
Fourth Official: Milorad Mažić (Serbia)
Reserve Assistant Referee: Thorsten Schiffner (Germany)
UEFA Referee Observer: Hugh Dallas (Scotland)
UEFA Delegate: Lloyd Hughes (Wales)
UEFA Referee Liaison Officer: Davide Garbini (Italy)
Blog Referee Observers: Edward (Greece), Thomas H. (Netherlands)


The jerseys (Sevilla GK, Sevilla players, Referee, Benfica Players, Benfica GK):

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Björn Kuipers and Felix Brych to take charge of UEFA's 2014 Club Competition Finals

- 19 Comments
UEFA's Referee Committee obviously hurried and surprised us with two unexpected but equally expected referee appointments for the Champions League as well as Europa League final. Unexpected, because it never happened that the nominations were revealed that early. Expected, because both referees appointed were absolutely predictable.

Do it again: Kuipers and Brych are the lucky final appointees

While Dutch Björn Kuipers will take charge of his third major final within only one year by overseeing the Madrid derby between Real and Atlético in the Champions League, German Felix Brych will make his international final bow in Turin by handling the Europa League final between Sevilla FC and Benfica SL.
The interesting thing is that both referees know each other very well and enjoyed valuable experiences together: Björn Kuipers' team that took charge of last year's Europa League and Confederations Cup final was both times completed by Felix Brych. This time, the financial lawyer from Munich will be responsible as the main referee and assisted by Mark Borsch, Stefan Lupp (ARs), Tobias Welz, Bastian Dankert (AARs). Thorsten Schiffner, his former AR1, will join the team as the reserve assistant referee and would become active if one of the assistant referees involved should face a sudden injury or illness. Serbian World Cup referee Milorad Mažić will be the fourth official. The team will be observed by Hugh Dallas from Scotland; the match is delegated by Lloyd Hughes of Wales. Italian Davide Garbini has been chosen as the referee liaison officer.
Netherlands' Björn Kuipers will be accompanied by his standard team consisting of Sander van Roekel and Erwin Zeinstra on the sidelines, Pol van Boekel and Richard Liesveld on the goallines and Angelo Boonman as the reserve assistant referee. Cüneyt Çakır of Turkey, the fourth official, has been finally rewarded for his constant merits over the last couple of years and will be present in Lisbon as well. German Herbert Fandel will observe and assess Team Kuipers. Sweden's Karl-Erik Nilsson has been assigned as the responsible delegate, while high-profile referee observer Nuno Castro from Portugal will be the referee liaison officer in Lisbon.

We consider these choices as the best appointments possible and wish both referee teams all the best!


UEFA Europa League Final 2014
14 May 2014, 20:45 CET
Juventus Arena, Turin, Italy
Sevilla FC - Benfica SL
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)
Assistant Referee 1: Mark Borsch (Germany)
Assistant Referee 2: Stefan Lupp (Germany)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Tobias Welz (Germany)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Bastian Dankert (Germany)
Fourth Official: Milorad Mažić (Serbia)
Reserve Assistant Referee: Thorsten Schiffner (Germany)
UEFA Referee Observer: Hugh Dallas (Scotland)
UEFA Delegate: Lloyd Hughes (Wales)
UEFA Referee Liaison Officer: Davide Garbini (Italy)
Blog Referee Observers: Edward (Greece), Thomas H. (Netherlands)


UEFA Champions League Final 2014
24 May 2014, 20:45 CET
Estádio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal
Real Madrid - Atlético Madrid
Referee: Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Assistant Referee 1: Sander van Roekel (Netherlands)
Assistant Referee 2: Erwin E. J. Zeinstra (Netherlands)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Pol van Boekel (Netherlands)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Richard Liesveld (Netherlands)
Fourth Official: Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)
Reserve Assistant Referee: Angelo Boonman (Netherlands)
UEFA Referee Observer: Herbert Fandel (Germany)
UEFA Delegate: Karl-Erik Nilsson (Sweden)
UEFA Referee Liaison Officer: Nuno Castro (Portugal)
Blog Referee Observers: Chefren (Italy), Niclas (Germany)
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May 5, 2014

Predictions for the Referees in UEFA's 2014 Finals: Europa League

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Seeing the UEFA Europa League final 2013/14 lying only nine days ahead, it is definitely time to make some profound predictions with regard to who should be the match officials who will be about to take charge of these two matches. Today I start with the Europa League final.


At first, one must expose some criteria that should be fulfilled or that limit the pool of probable candidates:
I. The referee to be selected very surely belong to UEFA Elite Group of Referees.
II. The match officials to be selected do not come from Spain or from Portugal due to the teams involved.
III. Referees, who took charge of a Europa League semifinal this season will be no option for Turin final.
IV. Referees, who have already taken charge of a final in the respective competition in the past, are neglected.
 
Applying these criteria, several match officials are remaining:
Martin Atkinson (ENG), Felix Brych (GER), William Collum (SCO), Jonas Eriksson (SWE), Viktor Kassai (HUN), Pavel Královec (CZE), Stéphane Lannoy (FRA), Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR), Gianluca Rocchi (ITA), Paolo Tagliavento (ITA), Craig Thomson (SCO), Howard Webb (ENG) 
 
Applying the performance principle, considering their recent shape, experience and other soft factors, only a few match offficials are remaining:
Felix Brych (GER), Jonas Eriksson (SWE), Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR), Gianluca Rocchi (ITA), Howard Webb (ENG)
 
 
Since Juventus Turin lost their semifinal and won't attend the final in their home stadium, an Italian match officiating team is theoretically possible. Gianluca Rocchi performed decently this season, showing good performances in mostly easy but also one very difficult match (Sevilla - Porto). However, his AR2 Gianluca Cariolato would very likely miss him in the case of a nomination because of his presence and serious crucial mistake at Skomina's side in the semifinals. Furthermore there are probably some referees whose shape would justify a final designation more than Gianluca Rocchi without devaluing his quality of refereeing.
 
 
Norwegian Svein Oddvar Moen made a really good development this season. Last season, he had many problems in the Round of 16 match between Arsenal FC and Bayern München as well as the quarterfinal between Real Madrid and Galatasaray. In both cases, he indicated his potential and talent but struggled in other significant parts. This season, the monitoring of his progress was apparently intensified by the referee committee. Among others, Marc Batta and Juan Antonio Fernández Marín observed him in interesting matches that were topped by the World Cup play-off between Jordan and Uruguay and his nomination for the World Cup as fourth official. A match in Champions League knockout stage was the logical consequence, but again, he disappointed a bit. In Bayern München - Arsenal FC, he never found a consistent line and missed a clear foul preceding a goal scored by the English side. Therefore his journey in UCL ended after this match supervised by Jaap Uilenberg and continued in Europa League (AZ Alkmaar - Benfica SL with Nikolay Levnikov, so again a committee member). Moen is no option for a final as main referee from my point of view. He must collect more experience over the next couple of years to really arrive at the absolute peak and to deposit the "talent-label" that clings to him. Being a talent is fine, but the final breakthrough should follow over the time. As mentioned above, he will join the World Cup as fourth official. That's why I expect that Moen will be assigned for Turin final as such to gain valuable experiences as fourth official in general but also related to the spirit of an international club competition final.

 
The other Scandinavian, Jonas Eriksson, was practically active in every single round of this knockout stage so that partly the impression had aroused that UEFA had quite limited resources of top-class referees: Champions League Round of 16, Europa League Round of 16 - observed by vice officer Hugh Dallas and chief officer Pierluigi Collina, Champions League quarterfinals and, last but not least, a Champions League semifinal, also under the eyes of Collina, who was in Estadio Vicente Calderón. He performed well or even very well in almost every match. With every game, however, there were more inconsistencies here and there, even though this is criticism on a very high level. Except Atlético Madrid - Chelsea FC, he always had full control and exhibited outstanding management abilities which would be needed in the probably fight between Benfica SL and Sevilla FC. I slightly missed these abilities in Madrid though, to be honest. This naturally only represents a subjective opinion and may not be generalized. In my opinion, he could have performed and dealt better with the intense moments in this semifinal, specially when it came to mass confrontations - which, of course, also underlines the high difficulty of the task the Swedish team had to cope with that evening. Anyway, I actually don't expect Jonas Eriksson in Turin and would be glad to see him on World Cup turf the next time.
 
 
Same goes for Howard Webb. Undoubtfully, his performances have been great in this knockout stage if we exclude small problems in the Italian duel also caused by his additional assistant referee. Specially in Real Madrid - Bayern München, he totally showed his huge experience. And in the previous Champions League quarterfinal between Atlético Madrid and FC Barcelona, he got the highest mark we ever gave in our match reports (8.9). So there is little doubt about the level of his performances. Additionally, there are strong rumours that Webb would consider to finish his international career after the World Cup in July 2014. Turin's final would be kind of a farewell party or gift for Howard Webb and his assistants - a Europa League final is almost the only thing still missing in his CV. The doubt I have is whether referees should be appointed for big finals only because they deliberately and voluntarily decided to retire. Generally: a clear no. But as we speak about Webb and not the first one that comes along, generalizations do not work. Nonetheless I am convinced that there are many other referees who should get into the spotlight and who should be rewarded for their constantly good work over years. As you have maybe guessed, that's the cue for Felix Brych.
 

The financial lawyer from Munich, Germany, delivered overall good performances in a constant way over the past four or five years. The World Cup play-off between Ireland and France, where he really excelled, can be considered as the starting point of his breakthrough. He has become a very reliable referee for the truly difficult matches over time and is estimated as such by the responsible officials. When FIFA and UEFA neglect to appoint an established, fully experienced and also very good referee like Wolfgang Stark for the World Cup, his compatriot Brych must have some qualities. Matches like Chelsea FC - FC Barcelona in the 2012 semifinals or the Balcan derby between Serbia and Croatia in the World Cup play-offs are good examples of his ability to keep high-profile matches under very good control while always paying attention to the Laws of the Game. Nonetheless, his performances have been, in my opinion, only "good, and nothing more" this season. The last piece of cake that would have made these performances very good was mostly missing. What is weird in Brych's case is that he consistently makes the same mistakes or shows the same weaknesses again and again, e.g. his player management, use of the whistle and gestures, positioning, additional time management... His coaching should be optimized at any rate - there is still a lot of potential upwards. Despite that, delivering constantly good performances in matches like AC Milan - FC Barcelona, Chelsea FC - Galatasaray or FC Barcelona - Atlético Madrid should be enough to strongly consider Brych for the Europa League final, to give him some really good arguments for many matches at the World Cup and to reward him for what he accomplished over the last years, keeping in mind that often times Bayern München impeded such a "reward". It would be his third final within one year by the way - however, he had "only" been Kuipers' fourth official in both finals. Even though the German champions have lost their Champions League semifinals, I do not expect Felix Brych in Lisbon, although I am quite sure that the committee members are intensely thinking about this unique opportunity at the moment (taking into account that Bayern München will probably not always miss the final) - but I personally think that Turin should be the venue where his trip has to go to.
 
Prediction:
 
Europa League Final 2013/14, 14 May 2014, 20:45 CET
Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy
Sevilla FC - Benfica SL
Referee: Felix Brych (GER)
Assistant Referee 1: Mark Borsch (GER)
Assistant Referee 2: Stefan Lupp (GER)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Felix Zwayer (GER)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Marco Fritz or Tobias Welz (GER)
Fourth Official: Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR)
Reserve Assistant Referee: Mike Pickel (GER)


Expect the Champions League final predictions next week, please!
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May 3, 2014

Conflicts of Interest in UEFA Refereeing?

- 37 Comments
Most of you will probably agree that UEFA's referee committee did not risk anything in this year's semifinals. Eight experienced and established match officials, i.e. really safe pairs of hands, were assigned to take charge of the last stage prior to the finals in Champions League and Europa League. The real surprise was the appointment of the UEFA Referee Observer in the Europa League semifinal first leg between Sevilla CF and Valencia CF, which absolutely deserves our undivided attention. 


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May 2, 2014

UEFA Under-17 European Championship 2014 - Referees

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UEFA has appointed the following match officials to attend this year's Under-17 European Championship in Malta. Starting on 9 May, eight teams are about to fight for their very first trophy on international turf. The referees and assistant referees selected are foreseen to take control over the matches and to undergo deep analysis on their performances, personalities and physical as well as mental preparation taught by the referee observers and committee representatives. All officials are international since at least 2013 - there is no complete newbie in the roster.


Referees:

Aliyar Aghayev - Azerbaijan - 17.10.1987
Aleksandrs Anufrijevs - Latvia - 08.01.1984
Nikola Dabanović - Montenegro - 18.12.1981 (photo)
Andreas Ekberg - Sweden - 02.01.1985
Alexander Harkam - Austria - 17.11.1981
Jonathan Lardot - Belgium - 31.01.1984

Assistant Referees:

István Norbert Albert - Hungary - 17.01.1980
David Elias Biton - Israel - 17.06.1978
David Chigogidze - Georgia - 26.07.1989
Mesrop Ghazaryan - Armenia - 19.07.1982
Audrius Jagintavicius - Lithuania - 13.09.1984
Oleksandr Korniyko - Ukraine - 20.04.1981
Dag-Roger Nebben - Norway - 05.09.1980
Jure Praprotnik - Slovenia - 24.08.1985

Fourth Officials:

Clayton Pisani - Malta - 31.07.1978
Alan Mario Sant - Malta - 16.08.1980


The list was furthermore provided by whistleland.
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